Posted by fxckfeelings on March 1, 2016Share This Post
Unlike severe autism, autism spectrum disorder is more a collection of differences than a disease. True, there are disabilities and moments of feeling alienated, but some abilities are enhanced, so it’s less like being broken and more like being Batman. So if you have Asperger traits, don’t make it your goal to be “normal.” Recognizing your weaknesses does not oblige you to eliminate them, but to learn how to use your strengths to manage them and be the person you are (and perhaps save Gotham, if you’re so inclined).
I’m over 60 and have just discovered/realized I am on the autism spectrum (what they used to call Asperger’s). I’ve spent my life trying to fit in to a neurotypical world. I’m also a little over a year divorced from someone who emotionally abused me for almost 20 years. Between these two things, I’m kind of reinventing myself. I’m already saying f*ck to ‘normal’ (neurotypical) and to society’s dictates for women my age, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally comfortable with what’s happening. My goal is to figure out how f*cked I am, and what can I do about it.
We’ve written a lot about the pros and cons of receiving a diagnosis; sometimes, knowing exactly what ails you can help you to manage it better, but other times putting a name on something that was always there makes a once-manageable issue seem far more serious and dire. In other words, identifying a problem can create problems of its own.
So if you’ve felt vaguely outsider-y for over 60 years, then knowing exactly why doesn’t make you any more fucked than you were before; it just makes you easier to classify on a medical chart. You probably know what you need to know and don’t need expert advice, from me or any other MD.
For example, you know you don’t have a knack for picking the right partner or protecting yourself from mistreatment, but, with experience, you were able to identify the problem and do what’s necessary. That’s a great beginning. The next step is to ask yourself about the experiences and activities that you always found most meaningful and necessary.
Excluding your ex, determine whether you have a circle of friends you can trust, or whether loneliness is an issue. Consider whether you’d be happier with different work, or whether you’re looking forward to retirement. Hopefully, you’ll find that your work and social style have always reflected your real personality rather than a desire to act like everyone else. If they don’t, a knowledgeable therapist or Asperger support group may steer you towards embracing what comes naturally.
Given your marital experience, you might wonder whether any of your current friendships or family relationships is abusive. If in doubt, elicit input from friends or a therapist. As someone who was overly attached to one bad relationship, you may have made the same mistake with others.
You may not feel comfortable finding yourself reexamining your life at this stage, but you may also find that you’re stronger and wiser, and that your life is much better with your marriage behind you. Understanding your unique strengths and weaknesses helps you to protect yourself and know when to ask for advice.
With luck, even if you happen to feel uncomfortable, you’ll find that you’re more comfortable with your neuro-atypical style, and ready to make decisions that will tailor the next part of your life to your needs. You’re going to be fine; it’s neurotypicality that can go f*ck itself.
“It feels funny to come to understand my personality differences and weaknesses in my seventh decade, but I will accept and celebrate those differences and draw on experience and advice to improve my ability to manage relationships.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname